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The case of PDVSA managers, Aryenis and Afredo: Heroes or traitors?

On February 28, 2020, a month before the start of the COVID-19 lockdown in Venezuela, Aryenis and Alfredo, PDVSA managers, were detained. They were accused of leaking strategic information from the state oil company to the United States. Their relatives say they are innocent.

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A letter to Nicolás Maduro, marches to the Supreme Court, protest on the streets, national and international statements from left political organizations, protest on Twitter, and even a concert. Those have been the actions that relatives, friends, and workmates of Aryenis and Alfredo undertook to demand their freedom.

Aryenis and Alfredo are two workers from the state oil company, PDVSA. They were arrested by DGCIM officers on February 29, 2020, in the offices of the company, in Caracas.

You must read In the same week, the regime of Nicolás Maduro charged two oil unionists with treason

Néstor Reverol, then Minister of Justice and Peace, reported in a press conference o March 7 that both workers had been accused of leak confidential and strategic information of the national oil industry into the United States.

At the time of the detention, Alfredo Chirinos, an electronic engineer, was manager of Operations. Meanwhile, Aryenis Torrealba, an industrial engineer, worked as general manager of crude oil operations. Both were graduated from the National Experimental University in Barquisimeto, Lara state, the city where they born and grow up, and all their families live. All of them related to the Venezuelan guerrilla, the Chavista party PSUV, and the so-called Bolivarian Revolution.

A rotten system

Iracara Chirinos, the sister of Alfredo, said they have lived in a calvary since February 28. “The justice system is rotten,” she told El Pitazo.

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Iracara explained that 115 days after the detention, the families and lawyers had access to the files and knew that both oil workers were charged with association to commit the crime, corruption, divulgation of strategic information, terrorism, and treason.

“When we checked the file, we had a big surprise: there is no evidence, nothing from the CIA, from the United States or spies. The documents they had are the regular documents that any manager could have. I mean, if you sell orange, people going to find a file of sale orange in your office.”

Iracara Chirinos also explains that one of the documents and alleged evidence in the file get signed by Daniel Carmona, an operator, and subordinate of Aryenis Torrealba. It is about the sale of PDVSA to a company whit no commercial relationship with the state oil company.

Carmona serves as a witness to an irregularity and which Aryenis had denounced two months before when they ignored the alert within the PDVSA management.

The private lawyer mentioned that the preliminary hearing should be 60 days top after the detention, meaning March 2, but, in the end, get scheduled for September 22.

That day, the charges of terrorism and treason were dismissed but charged with corruption, divulgation of strategic information. Since then, they remain detained in the headquarters of the DGCIM in Caracas.

“The prosecutor told us that they could give them a precautionary measure if they pleaded guilty. It was so outrageous for us,” the sister of Alfredo said.

Letter to Nicolás Maduro

Iracara Chirinos told El Pitazo that both families and friends wrote and signed a letter to Nicolás Maduro asking him to review the case.

You must read The Corruption-meter: $42 billion squandered in state oil firm PDVSA

During a public speech on September 1, Nicolas Maduro asked Attorney General Tarek William Saab for a private meeting with the relatives of Aryenis and Alfredo to explain the evidence against them.

The meeting did happen, on September 3, Iracara said.

“In that meeting, the prosecutor told us that they could give them a precautionary measure if they pleaded guilty. It was so outrageous for us. How would they admit crimes that they did no commit when the responsible are others?” said Iracara Chirinos.

That February 28

Aryenis and Alberto entered PDVSA more than a decade ago, Iracara told. Although both are from Barquisimeto, they met in the state oil company.

On February 28, 2020, Alfredo and Aryenis got a call from PDVSA for a meeting. They went to the date at the time, 11:00 am. There were DGCIM officers that – according to Iracara- arrested them under deception. Officers asked them to accompany them to a routine interrogation without ever showing them a record or telling them what was happening.

Since that day, they were missing. Three days after, on Sunday, March 1, family and lawyers had news about them. They were in the DGCIM headquarters.

The family went the next day, with another lawyer, to demand information about them, and three times during the day, the answer was the same, “They do not arrive yet.” At 6:30 pm, the family lawyer told them to go home. But they did no expect that Aryenis and Alfredo would have their hearing at 7:00 pm.

Human Rights violations

“Aryenis had panic attacks. She got handcuffed for three days; she slept on the floor, whit an artificial light for 24 hours. The public defender told us that Alfredo was pretty beating. Alfredo said it at the preliminary hearing when he lifted his T-shirt. The judge told him that it was not with her, and the prosecutor was silent.”

In the case of Aryenis, ten days after her detention, allowed her to make a phone call and receive visits. “I am alive, was all she said, no even hello to her mom,” Iracara said with a broken voice.

“We were able to confirm that both got tortured. Alfredo had his head put in a bag, and they poured a chemical on him. I, my father, and my sister could see him on March 7, and he had his face and ears burned. The abdomen and the back were aubergine color. He spent 24 hours without being able to see, he thought he would go blind,” his sister said.

A measly betrayal

Before the press conference of Néstor Reverol, a statement was made public through the state television channel where Aryenis Torrealba and Alfredo Chirinos were held “responsible for delivering strategic and confidential information to the Government of the United States of America.”

You must read Former PDVSA officials and contractors purchased luxury properties in the US for $60 million

In the statement, it read textually: “This measly betrayal gave them the rating by the American government as a high-level contributor by providing valuable information of the Venezuelan government. For that reason, it was requested to the Attorney General to start an investigation and apply the full weight of the law.”

International leftist organizations by Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico an Paraguay requested the release of Alfredo and Aryenis in a public letter to Nicolás Maduro. Photo by courtesy.

“In that document, they sentence my brother and Aryenis. They get tried without ever having been presented to a court, without a final judgment,” Iracara says.

International petition

On December 2, international leftist organizations requested the release of Alfredo and Aryenis in a public letter to Nicolás Maduro signed by groups from Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, and Paraguay.

Iracara insists on the innocence of his brother and sister-in-law. She begs for a precautionary measure for both, although she believes that it would be fair to dismiss the crimes.

“My brother is being charged for his honesty, his loyalty to Chávez. It hindered those who want to continue doing business with the resources of the country, ”Iracara declared.

The relatives of Alberto and Aryenis just want to receive the New Year whit the family complete.

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